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I have found over the years that cancer has crept it's way into so many people I love lives.
I remember when I was younger hearing about it, knowing families who were going through such unthinkable experiences. But I was just a kid, I didn't really understand the depths of it all.
It wasn't until I was in college, it was my junior year and I was walking back to my suite. I had called my mom on my way home as I did daily. We always chatted about our days, how classes and work went, what the plans were for our nights. Everything seemed pretty typical with this conversation until I walked into my building and came to a halt.
She broke the news to me that my aunt Carol was diagnosed with colon cancer.
I remember standing inside the entrance of my building, just frozen in time. I was trapped in the perfect college bubble, living a life between being a kid and an adult. I felt like my world as I knew it had popped and I had fallen flat on the ground.
The kid in me didn't know what questions I was supposed to ask, what I needed to know. The adult in me was instantly worried as I longed to be with my close knit family.
That was over 4 years ago, and in that time I have learned tremendous things. I saw my aunt Carol harness the immense amounts of inner strength she contained. I watched as she chose to live and not to succumb to such an evil disease. She continued to live her life, to spend every moment she had with her children, Christopher and Jacqueline and the love of her life, Steve. She chose to enjoy those closest around her; our tight knit family and her closest friends. She took every opportunity she could to find all the happiness the world had to offer her.
My aunt Carol, to this day has fought hard for her life, but she had notforgotten to enjoy it. I always say it's remarkable, truly it is. When life throws you flaming curveballs, some people will choose to strike out, but some, only the bravest, will swing with hopes of success. That's what she did, she swung at cancer. Because of that, she is here today, surrounded by those she loves and is guided by those who can no longer be with us. She has a bravery unlike anybody I have ever seen, she is truly an inspiration.
I have learned not only from my aunt's personal battle, but from my family who has walked along side of her during these years. We have always been a close bunch, but it's pretty darn amazing to witness love that never waivers. Despite the most difficult and unbearable times, my family has stuck close to each other. It's all for one and one for all in this group.
I sit here and think about my family. We watch my aunt go through all she does, and we all play a different role. We all pay close attention to what's happening but it's interesting to think about how we all approach it. There are those who are active in knowing the details, relaying information from one person to another, explaining procedures and options. We have the group who is in between, we are able to talk about it, to learn and to embrace reality as it is but in a way, we take a back seat in the process.
Then there are those who have a hard time dealing, who are aware of the details but find it difficult to acknowledge because that would make it more real than it already is. The combination of the three groups though, I have decided, it's essential. There are moments where we need to be 100% proactive, there are times where we can intertwine the situation with other events, and sometimes we all desire the distraction; the moments where we can just be.
My family unit, our whole gang, is pretty incredible. No matter where any of us stand, we know that when we have to, we'll stand together. That's through thick and thin. It's reassuring to know (even though I've always known this), that my family is there despite awful nightmares that haunt us. They'll be there to coax us through, to tell us that tomorrow will be better. They'll celebrate the wonderful days we have, love us despite our flaws and make sure we know that their support will always be there.
The journey my aunt Carol and my family has been on these years has been filled with bad news and great news. We have faced the darkest times, but have always found the light and will continue to do so.
So, that's why I relay. I relay for my aunt Carol because I want to fight hard in any way I can. I learn from her daily and strive to be as strong and amazing as she is.
I relay for this gang of care givers I call my family. Because without people like that in your life, the bumps in journey become larger and more impossible to surpass.
I relay so that one day, nobody will have to face the evils of cancer. That no family will have to go through what so many have gone through and are going through.
I relay for more birthdays, for finding hope in the darkest times and for the everlasting love we find on such journeys.
I relay because it matters.
-Kristina Iennaco, Love Struck Creations
For more information on preventative care, staying healthy, support
& more, please visit: http://www.cancer.org/
To join Relay for Life, visit: http://www.relayforlife.org/
My name is Kristina and I'm the founder of Love Struck. Read about how Love Struck came to be, see how I make it happen or just read a random thought I just might have! Anything can happen at our blog & I wouldn't have it any other way! It's time to get Love Struck, and what better way to start than right here!